St. Thomas Aquinas' definition of love is "to will the good of another" - is it same as defining love as "to desire the good of another"?

According to Aquinas, does "loving" always require "desire for the good of another"?

  • Do you mean desire without action? As I read, I see that we are not only commanded to desire good for others but to be good to them. Faith without deeds is dead.
    – Andrew
    Jan 10 '16 at 18:19

Aquinas' understanding of love - is it desire?

The answer is NO!

Explaining the answer

In Summa Theol., I-II, Q. xxiii, a. 4, St. Thomas Aquinas states that there are six passions for the concupiscible appetite: love and hatred, desire and aversion, joy and sadness; and five for the irascible appetite: hope and despair, courage, fear, and anger. [Cf. Appetite | New Advent].

Therefore according to St. Thomas Aquinas, love and desire both belong to the passions for the concupiscible appetite but he does not equate the two.


CCC 1765 teaches that love causes a desire for the absent good and the hope of obtaining it; this movement finds completion in the pleasure and joy of the good possessed.

My understanding is that love a passion causes desire another passion, only when the good willed is absent. Once the good is obtained, love continues but the desire now is fulfilled and complete and rests in the pleasure and joy of the good possessed [cf. heaven].

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.